Steeltown’s partnership with Amachi is pioneering, national model 

Amachi Pittsburgh is a non-profit organization with the important mission of helping the children of incarcerated parents. Looking for help in spreading the word to attract attention to its charge, Amachi is teaming up with Steeltown’s Youth and Media program in a pioneering partnership.

These children are classified by the U.S. Department of Justice as “the most at risk for future delinquency or incarceration.”

“We’re a small organization with limited resource, but the need that we fill is so great, and we really need to get the word out,” says Anna Hollis, executive director of Amachi Pittsburgh. “One of our grant providers suggested that we get in touch with the Steeltown Entertainment Project and see if they could help us.”

The outreach from Amachi couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  Steeltown’s Youth and Media program, is always looking for ways to give Pittsburgh youth hands-on experience with film-making.  Carolyn Hare, executive director of Arts for Autism, runs the Joey Travolta Film Camp for two weeks every summer, and she approached Steeltown about a way to extend youth film opportunities to a year-round basis.  Arts Autism was able to outfit Steeltown with a grant to identify socially conscious, non-profit organizations, and put together promotional videos for those organizations. Amachi was the perfect fit, and the timing was perfect.

“We were just ready to begin looking for non-profit organizations who might be interested in having our youth produce a video for them when Amachi reached out to us about a video production,” says Steeltown President and CEO Carl Kurlander.  “The timing was perfect, and they were looking for exactly what we were trying to provide. This was our first video in a series of what we believe is a pioneering model of bringing together kids from all over Pittsburgh and allowing them to be producers on real videos for real clients in need of visibility.”

“Without Steeltown, we wouldn’t have the means to produce a video like this,” Hollis says. “The final product of the video will play a major role in Amachi’s 10 year anniversary celebration, Amachi Hachi Pachi, on October 2 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The video will help us show the community the kind of work we’re doing, and how we develop collaborations in the non-profit sector with organizations like Steeltown.”

Beyond the debut at the party, Amachi has long-term goals for utilizing the video to spread the word about their organization.  They plan to share it on their website, YouTube, and on their various social media channels to help demonstrate their value to the community and source volunteers, donors and investors alike.

There is more to the video than simply spreading the word of Amachi, though.  The production process of the video provided an opportunity for Amachi’s youth to get involved with a film-making project, alongside of the already very diverse group of Pittsburgh youth who were a part of the project through Steeltown, and use it as an gain exposure to the film industry, and most importantly, use it as a channel to learn and grow.

“We’re all about youth and family empowerment at Amachi. We know all kids have unlimited potential, and we want kids to dream big, but it’s hard for them to dream big about a dream that they don’t even know exists,” says Hollis. “This kind of exposure to the industry is a great opportunity to young people.  I was blown away when I walked in and I saw the youth putting together the set with all the lighting and the serious film equipment…I felt like I walked onto a real Hollywood set.  This is exactly the type of project that can help us educate our children and families and ultimately help them to break the cycle of poverty that leads to crime and incarceration.”

This project is just the first of a series of films about Pittsburgh non-profits that the Steeltown Youth and Media film team will be producing, and Hollis was happy to be in on the ground floor. “Hopefully Steeltown can do this for other non-profits,” she says. “This is as great of an opportunity for Steeltown as it was for Amachi—this unique collaboration.  It is an opportunity to learn how the unique collaboration among non-profits can further advance the work we are all doing for the Pittsburgh community.”